Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals #12: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
In grassroots advocacy, it’s not enough to be opposed to something. If you’re going to engage in a grassroots campaign, Saul Alinsky said, you’d better have an alternative idea to the policy that you’re opposing.
“You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying ‘You’re right—we don’t know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us,’” Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals.
In grassroots advocacy today, people are willing and eager to oppose a policy they don’t like, whether it’s a tax hike or a big government program or a new regulation. But when asked for their solution to the problem, they don’t have an answer.
It’s not enough to be against something—you need to be for an alternative. If you’re opposing a tax hike, suggest how local government can cut wasteful spending to fund the necessary priorities. If you’re fighting a new program, be prepared to explain how there are free-market alternatives that will be more efficient and effective.
If all your group of activists do is say “no,” you’ll eventually lose credibility with the citizens, staffers and elected officials you’re trying to influence. Present your plan, don’t just bash the bad ideas.
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Check out the rest of the Adapting Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals series here: